This week Paul Gallen was fined $50 000 by the NRL for posting this tweet after the Sharks made Steve Noyce redundant.
“Noyce actually cared about players from Cronulla’s feelings. Couldn’t say that about any other cunt from the NRL”
Gallen has had a bad year. Flanagan’s suspension, mid-season record for most games without scoring a point, Carney pissing in his mouth and getting axed, Fifita leaving then staying, retirement of Beau Ryan and Josh Morris, Peter Sharp’s mid-season resignation, getting the wooden spoon and then finally agreeing to a deal with ASADA in which most players are shamed and forced to accept that they took banned substances. That’s a lot to deal with in one year and it looks like the departure of the Shark’s CEO was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Unfortunately, as every Australian knows it doesn’t matter how bad things are, you can’t call your boss a cunt, even if it’s true. Since this penalty was handed out support for Gallen has grown. This support swelled in the wake of NRL judiciary chairman Paul Conlon resigning in protest saying:
“I have never witnessed a penalty more disproportionate to the offending conduct than that dealt out to Paul Gallen”
What has followed has been the increasingly familiar spectacle of a public relations battle between an individual and the sporting code.
In the Paul Gallen camp we heard reports of a battle with depression and public support from heavyweights such as NSW chairman George Peponis. These were countered by NRL reports that during the ASADA investigation Gallen had opted to not use legal advice given to all Sharks players and received independent legal advice at a cost of $80 000 to the NRL. This was a large portion of the $350 000 given to all 17 sharks players involved in the scandal.
This back and forth is set to continue as Gallen appeals the decision. In this David versus Goliath battle, where David is 6 foot tall, 104 kg and plays prop for Australia, and Goliath is well……David Smith, I guess it isn’t that surprising that Goliath is looking pretty wobbly. After two years of the ASADA debacle where we have had to watch the NRL, AFL and ASADA wave their authority around to preserve their brand and image, while doing an unacceptable job of gathering real information and fixing the regulatory problems within their sports the public is getting battle weary. While this latest episode with Paul Gallen is on a much smaller scale like Noyce’s resignation it might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
The NRL should have been big enough to accept Gallen’s immediate apology, condemn the inappropriate language and worked out an appropriate penalty that helped Gallen make amends with those in his community that the comments offended. It’s also worth mentioning at this point that an additional punishment for Gallen was that he complete a NRL leadership course. Presumably this course would focus on the importance of complying with the wishes of authoritative bodies. I dare say some real education in leadership needs to be looked at by the NRL and David Smith otherwise Goliath could be heading for a big fall sooner rather than later.